TINIAN — If there is one place in the CNMI that I really wanted to visit, it is this little strip of an island about five miles southwest of Tinian.
You get a glimpse of Goat Island or Aguigan when the plane makes a turn and prepares for landing at the Tinian airport.
Months back, some friends from Tinian who had been to the island made tentative plans and invited me to camp overnight on Goat Island, an invitation that I knew I could and would never refuse despite the impossible challenges that came with the invitation: swimming against the strong ocean currents or waiting for the right moment when the boat tilts toward the steep cliffside which is the only access to the island then making a jump for it.
None of the options were appealing but I knew that I was willing to brave that jump if I had to since swimming was out of the question. My friend said sharks abound around the island — and they were not the shy type.
On a clear afternoon last week, I got a good view of Goat Island from Tachogna Beach. Using my zoom lens, I saw nothing but incredibly steep cliffs extending from one end of the island to the other. My lens was not powerful enough to see the feral goats and birds that are the sole inhabitants of the island.
The 2.7 mile Goat Island is reported to the site of the last of the ancient Chamorro resistance to Spanish colonial rule in 1695. My friend said remains of war shelters and other relics from World War II like bombs and shells still litter the island
Dive operators say some of the best dive spots in the CNMI can be found around Goat Island, but only a few are willing to venture that far because the currents are just too strong and too dangerous even for seasoned swimmers.
A couple of years back, lawmakers on Tinian offered Goat Island as an alternative site for the planned buildup in the Marianas in the wake of increasing opposition on Guam. Then-Tinian Rep. Edwin Aldan also suggested the need to propose a plan to relocate the wild animals and birds to Goat Island so they would be safe when the military buildup started on Tinian.
Our tentative plans went down the drain when one of my buddies went home to the Philippines for good. The plan will now remain a plan, but someday I hope to be able to write another article after I’ve actually set foot on Goat Island.
Goat Island from a distance | around-the-island.